Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Me to my child: “I love you.”
Me: “Do you know why I love you?”
Me: “Because you are you.”
This was a common conversation with all of my children and one I still have today with my grandchildren. It was taken from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and used often in my home. I have a great love and respect for Fred Rogers; his words of encouragement and philosophy of kindness to others was consistent and sincere: certainly a philosophy we can all learn from and apply to our lives.
Using his own words, below are five ways Mister Rogers teaches us to love ourselves “just the way we are”:
1. “I think that those who would try to make you feel less than who you are . . . that’s the greatest [harm].” --Fred Rogers
For me, it started in the fourth grade: an awareness of whom the “popular girls” were. It then became a quest to figure out how to get into that group. I tried to wear the clothes they were wearing, arrange my hair like theirs, talk like they did, and on and on it went. By the time I was in the sixth grade, I had part-time status in their group and I put all my efforts into becoming a full-time member. My quest came to an unfortunate end when a fashion choice of mine was deemed “not cool.” I was “cut” from the group—no one would sit by me, talk to me, or send me a note—nothing for a whole month! I would love to say I learned my lesson, wrote them off, and found my one true friend and was happy and comfortable in my own skin forever more. Sadly, that’s not what happened.
From these types of experiences, we get it into our head that we are not enough. We are not cool enough, hip enough, smart enough, or pretty enough. And now, with the rise of social media, we look multiple times a day at what would seemingly be “the cool crowd,” with their vacations, homes, children, husbands, clothes, latest gadgets; the list goes on. And once again, we feel we are “not enough.” We have to remember that no one’s life is as perfect as their social media feed would suggest. Even those cool girls whom I emulated had very hard and imperfect lives. One of them ran away with her sisters to get out of a bad home situation, others also faced life challenges with mothers who drank too much, absent fathers, etc.